Solar-Konzept planning 800 MW of unsubsidized solar in southern Italy

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German solar project developer Solar-Konzept is planning several unsubsidized solar parks with a total generation capacity of 800 MW across the southern Italian regions of Apulia and Basilicata.

Managing director Nikolaus von Einem told pv magazine land and grid connection approvals were already secured for all the projects.

Solar-Konzept Italia was only founded in May and swiftly applied to the municipal authority of Brindisi, in southern Apulia, for six solar projects with capacities of 16-98 MW and a total output of 300 MW.

“All of these projects are currently being reviewed for environmental impact assessment and a final decision should be taken in early 2020,” said Von Einem. “We hope to obtain final authorizations by the end of 2020 and build the power plants between 2021 and 2022.” Total investment for the facilities is estimated at around €180 million.

Seeking power deals

Solar-Konzept has applied for environmental impact assessments related to three 20 MW solar parks near Melfi, in neighboring Basilicata, and a 20 MW facility near Taranto in Apulia plus, by Christmas, “another 140 MW, set to be located between the Apulian provinces of Foggia, Bari and Taranto” added the developer’s MD. On top of that, the company is planning further projects to take its projected pipeline to 800 MW.

“All our projects are built without subsidies and we will have to look for a PPA [power purchase agreement],” said Von Einem. “The first indicative talks are under way but the project phase does not allow for more serious talks at the moment.”

Divisive

The executive admitted there is extensive opposition to new solar capacity in Apulia, and particularly in Brindisi. Von Einem said farmers were dealing with the xylella fastidiosa bacterium which has killed more than a million trees in the region but that the regional government also plans to close Apulia’s only coal plant, the 2,640 MW Federico II facility near Brindisi, by 2025.

“Apulia actually needs new power generation units,” said Von Einem, adding all of Solar-Konzept’s planned projects intend to host newly planted Mediterranean forest on around 25% of their footprint, in line with guidelines published by the province of Brindisi in August.

Struggle for land

The opposition to new solar from local authorities and civil groups is mirrored across Italy. Brindisi was a magnet for PV during the five iterations of the Conto Energia feed-in tariff which expired in 2013 and hosts a significant volume of solar generation capacity as a result. High solar radiation and favorable geography were bolstered by regional legislation which permitted solar facilities up to 1 MW in size without the need for environmental approvals. Predictably, that led to large scale projects being developed in 1 MW blocks.

Apulia is the capital of Italian solar with more than 2.65 GW of solar generation capacity, according to Italian energy agency the Gestore dei Servizi Energetici, and also boasts the largest average project size – 54.8 kW.

This article was amended on 25/11/19 to reflect Solar-Konzept has an 800 MW project pipeline in Italy, rather than 600 MW as previously stated.